Essay on Attitudes to Murder Macbeth Porphyria

Submitted By Julia-Allen
Words: 1436
Pages: 6

Porphyria’s Lover, Macbeth & My Last Duchess

Examine the Attitudes to Murder in the three texts

The poem ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ shows disturbing behaviour through the lover’s relaxed attitude to murder. The poem is written iambic pentameter. ‘No pain felt she; I am quite sure she felt no pain’. Iamic pentameter, commonly used in nursery rhymes, gives comfort to the reader even though the words said don’t match this theme. This implies the lover is trying to make out to the reader he has done nothing wrong by killing this innocent women so casually. The lover then goes on to say ‘Three times her little throat around, and strangled her’. He uses the words ‘And strangled her’ to suggest this action is an everyday thing, because of the way these words are so forwardly used. By now, the reader gets the impression that this man is psychotic as he has just killed someone, and is indicating to the reader that it’s an everyday occurrence.

Although Lady Macbeth talks of death so casually, she doesn’t take a relaxed approach to it, but talks of it in a violent way, aggressive manner. She says ‘Have plucked my nipple from its boneless gums, And dash’d the brains out’. The writer chooses the word ‘dash’d’ to present to the reader that Lady Macbeth knows death is a big thing, but she is not feared by it.

In the play ‘Macbeth’ there is a steady, upbeat rhythm scheme used which shows disturbing behaviour because the rhythm scheme doesn’t match the words about death.
Lady Macbeth says ‘How tender ‘tis to love the babe that milks me: I would while it was smiling in my face, Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn’.
The use of the upbeat rhythm and, oppositely disturbing words goes to show how relaxed Lady Macbeth’s attitude to murder is. It comes across to the reader that this woman doesn’t take death seriously, or even if she understood how serious it was, she would still go ahead with such an action. The words used by Lady Macbeth are violent and aggressive.


In Porphyria’s Lover, Browning writes about an abnormally possessive lover waiting for his women to arrive. The lover is obsessed with Porphyria and wants her to belong to him. He says ‘That moment she was mine’. Browning uses emotional language to convey just how obsessed the lover is with Porphyria. The use of the word ‘mine’ demonstrates how he wants Porphyria all to himself as he knows he’s second best and they shouldn’t be together, whether it’s because of society’s judgement or reasons of adultery.
He goes on to say ‘And give herself to me forever’.
Alternatively, Lady Macbeth seems to have possession over Macbeth. She knows this possession through the use of punctuation ‘At what I did so freely? though art in desire?’
The use of a rhetorical question shows that eve though he’s a proud man who is a soldier with a great name, Lady Macbeth is trying to use her position over him as she knows the answers to these questions her self, so she’s just trying to hurry the King’s death along.


In ‘My Last Duchess’ The Duke justifies his actions by thinking his wife didn’t deserve the role of a Duchess, or live up to her responsibilities. He says ‘She thanked men – good! But thanked somehow – I know not how – as if she ranked my gift of a nine – hundred – years – old name with anybody’s gift’. The Duke uses ‘nine – hundred – year –old –name’ to compare with ‘Cherries some officious fool broke into the orchard for her’ to make the Duchess sound ungrateful. So the reader won’t sympathise with her, and he is trying to justify killing her. In effect this makes the Duke feel less guilty as she deserved everything she got.

In similar way in ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ the lover justifies his actions by saying he wanted the perfect moment in time. He says ‘That moment she was mine, mine, fair perfectly pure and good’.
At this point in the poem, the lover belonged totally to her, so he felt he had the power and control